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Saturday, August 29, 2015

You Have a Divine Helper!

You Have a Divine Helper!



Jesus promised that God would send the Holy Spirit to comfort and counsel and teach us everything.  (John 14:26)   Believers in Christ are all given the promise that in Christ's Name the Holy Spirit will live in us and be our divine Helper.  That is really amazing!  We can either make the Holy Spirit feel at home in our lives or we can ignore His presence.  The Holy Spirit will not push His way into our lives or force us to listen to Him.  He waits for us to invite Him into our daily affairs.


The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God.  God is one God, but in three Persons.  The Bible teaches about the mystery of the Trinity. (three in One)  There is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.  When we have a problem we often go to God the Father in prayer.  And God the Holy Spirit often counsels us and helps answer our prayers.  But how does He speak to us?  And do we know how to hear from Him?


Joyce Meyer writes in her book, Knowing God Intimately, page 103 “One of the greatest ways that God leads His people is through the inner witness.  In other words, in our heart of hearts we just know inside what is right or what is wrong.  It is a deeper level of knowing than head knowledge.  This type of knowing is in the spirit. We simply have peace or a lack of peace, and by that peace or lack of it, we know what we should do.”


I believe that we have to learn to be led by God – to allow the Holy Spirit to be our helper and guide. Many of us don’t trust our ability to hear from God. Let’s not just sit around doing nothing about that, but let’s take an active part and ask God to help us hear His voice. God is pleased when we move out in faith. God invites us to come to Him so let’s do that. He promises that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)  Let’s boldly step out in faith and find out how the Holy Spirit is working in our lives so we can work with Him.


 The Holy Spirit waits to be invited into our situations. He is willing to do a great deal for us if we ask Him. Scripture says “We have not because we ask not.” (James 4:2)  Everywhere in Scripture we are told to believe Gods’ Word and to ask and receive what God promises to give us by faith.  Scripture says:  “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  (Hebrews 11:6a)


Years ago I took a typing class and I soon found that I had no ability when it came to typing.  My fingers refused to go where I wanted them to go and I wasn’t turning my work in on time. I was failing my typing class and didn’t know what to do! 


About that time I read the Bible verse in James 1:5.  It reads: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to everyone liberally without reproach or faultfinding, and it will be given him.  Only it must be done in faith,…”  (James 1:5)    I claimed that verse for myself and stopped and prayed to God asking that He give me the “wisdom” to type.  Then I started typing again, this time believing that God was helping me and giving me the ability to type.  Soon my fingers were learning to hit the right keys and I was turning my work in on time.  For three months I spent three hours a week in that typing class and I was typing 60 words a minute before the class was over.  I got an “A” in the class and throughout my life I have used the typing ability that God gave me.  I believe that the Holy Spirit helped me and gave me an ability that I initially did not have.


There is so much available to us in the Holy Spirit.  Scripture says that one of the many tasks the Holy Spirit does is to comfort us when we need comforting.  The Bible calls Him our “Comforter.”  (John 14:26)   He is also our teacher and will cause us to remember what we need to know.  (John 14:26)  He is our power and our strength and we receive that strength by faith.  (1 Peter 5:10)) Of course He won’t strengthen us to do things that are not Gods’ will.


 And another work that the Holy Spirit takes care of for us is this: -the Holy Spirit “seals” us for heaven.  Scripture says: “…Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His glory.”  (Ephesians 1:13)


Also the Holy Spirit is our intercessor.  He prays for us.  Scripture says: “But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us in accordance with God’s will.”  (Romans 8:27)  And He helps us pray.  We don’t always know how to pray as we should, so the Holy Spirit helps us pray.  Scripture says:  “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”  (Romans 8:26)   Also sometimes the Spirit urgently pushes us to pray for someone in need of prayer.


Joyce Meyer in her book, Knowing God Intimately, p. 120, writes that the Holy Spirit is also our Advocate.  The New Testament scriptures were originally written in Greek.  And the Greek word describing the Holy Spirit was the word “parakletos”, which is translated “advocate”.  Biblical commentaries say that the word “parakletos” means “called to one’s side, or called to one’s aid.”  Vine goes on to say, “It was used in a court of justice to denote a legal assistant or counsel for the defense…: one who pleads another’s cause, an intercessor.”   In other words, the Holy Spirit is there to stand up for us!  When we need to be defended or protected, the Holy Spirit defends and protects us.  We don’t have to defend ourselves when we are accused and attacked.  We have an Advocate, a “parakletos” the Holy Spirit. 

When we read the story of Jesus’ life we see that He didn’t spend time defending Himself.  Scripture says: “He made himself of no reputation.”  (Philippians 2:7)  Jesus was humble and never tried to show off or make a worldly impression.  He was born in a stable and grew up in the backwater town of Nazareth.  His family lacked wealth or fame and he didn’t spend much time with the “important” people.     


Many of us spend a lot of time worrying about what other people thing of us.  We try to look good and impress our friends and family.  Our reputations are important to us and we try to defend our actions and our words.  But there are always people who will find fault with us. We can’t please all of the people all of the time and sometimes we can be judged unfairly. We don’t have to justify ourselves before critical people.  We can do our best and let God take care of the rest.  We can let go and let God.  Scripture says that it is God who justifies us.  (Romans 8:33)  We have the Holy Spirit as our advocate so we can relax and let Him take care of our reputation, even if it isn’t straightened out until we reach heaven.    


Scripture says: “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?...(1 Corinthians 6:19)   The Bible teaches us that we received the Holy Spirit when we believed in Christ as our Savior.  So we are never alone but He is with us and in us all the time. He is our divine Helper and He will teach us and guide us in our Christian walk.  Let’s be open to Him and learn to let Him guide us.   













Saturday, August 22, 2015

These Gifts are Meant for you

 These Gifts are Meant for You


The Bible tells us that God has prepared good works in advance for us to do during our life.  (Ephesians 2:10)   And along with our work assignments, God has also promised to leave us gifts or “power tools” to use in our work. Our work is to help build the Church, – to build up God’s people. And also God promises to be with us and strengthen us for the job. He is giving us part of the action and empowering us with power to accomplish it.


We discussed two of the gifts, the gift of wisdom and the gift of knowledge, in last week’s blog.  And we will try to cover the rest of the gifts here in this week’s blog.  These gifts as described in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are: the gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and the interpretation of tongues.


Sometimes the gifts seem frightening and messy and we try to do our work of building the Church without them.  But the New Testament describes these gifts as all important in building up the Church.  We should take and use all that God has provided for us.


First the gift of faith is often given to certain persons for specific occasions such as a dangerous situation or a challenging problem.  When this gift is operating the person can easily believe God for something that others might see as impossible.  Scripture tells us that every person is given a certain amount of faith.  But this special gift of faith makes a person very bold and very confident that God will answer their prayer.


 Years ago my friend, Arlene, took her atheist friend to a weekend retreat being held at our church.  Arlene felt the Lord speak to her and tell her to pray that her atheist friend would believe and accept Christ that weekend.  Arlene prayed constantly for her friend’s salvation all weekend, strongly believing that God would answer her prayers.  Before the retreat was over Arlene’s friend accepted Christ and went on to become a vibrant Christian.  Was Arlene given the gift of faith to believe and pray for her friend’s salvation?     


All believers are told to pray for the sick, and their prayers are answered, (Mark 16:17-18) even though God gives the “gift of healing” to some persons for a special healing ministry.  Joyce Meyer writes: “When someone is healed, their healing may not manifest immediately.  Healing can be a process that works somewhat like medicine.” (“Knowing God Intimately”, Joyce Meyer, p.267)  Some healings happen instantly.  But many take time for the healing prayer to be answered, just as it takes time for good medicine to promote healing.  And some folks are not healed until they reach heaven.  Since we don’t understand the reasons, we will need to trust God with the answers to why some are healed and some aren’t.  We walk by faith and not by sight.   


Another gift is the working of miracles.  We can all believe God for miracles in our lives, but according to Scripture, some people are especially given the gift of working miracles. There are different types of miracles: deliverance miracles, healing miracles, miracles of provision, etc.  Jesus performed many miracles.  The feeding of the five thousand was a miracle of provision where the bread and fish multiplied as they were being passed around to feed the hungry people.


I have known Christians who had little money, but their few dollars seemed to stretch and grow to cover the feeding and care of many needy people.  Others have been given extra super strength to perform demanding and herculean jobs just when there was a desperate need.  And at other times funds happen to arrive from unexpected places just in time to take care of pressing problems.  How many miracles have come into your life that you have overlooked?


Then there is the gift of prophecy.  Prophecy can come as a message or a sermon or it can come by divine revelation.  But prophecy is God speaking through the person who has the gift of prophecy with a message to the Church.  The prophetic Word can bring correction or comfort or a teaching.  


My husband and I were members of a church once that encouraged its members to grow in the spiritual gifts.  During a church service we would sing praises and worship for twenty minutes or more and we could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst!  It was wonderful!  Then a church member with the gift of prophecy might stand up and speak God’s words of comfort and encouragement to the group.  And after that another person might speak out in a tongue. And we would wait for another person to give the interpretation of that tongue.  I had never been in a service like that and it was a great blessing! 


 The gift of prophecy has been abused by people who want to make money or a big name for themselves. There are false prophets who attack our faith and that is probably why many churches have not wanted to encourage the gift of prophecy.  We live in a sinful world and for every real gift from God there can be a counterfeit one from Satan.  Scripture says we can know what is from God and what is not by whether the gift produces good or evil.  Scripture says: “Beware of false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing but they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruits (what they do) you shall know them.  Every good tree bears good fruit and every bad tree bears bad fruit….”  (Matthew 7:15-, 16, 17, 20)  


The gift of discerning of spirits is the next gift on the list and it is a valuable gift in a sinful world.  Some people say that the discerning of spirits gives people supernatural insight into the spirit realm when God allows it.  There are many deceptive people in this world and many “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who act like they want to be our friend but really they want to destroy us. Some enjoy breaking up marriages, turning people against one another, or destroying another person’s faith.  We should perhaps all pray for this valuable gift! 


Last but not least are the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues.  Tongues is a spiritual language, one the Holy Spirit speaks through you, but one you do not know.  Saint Paul said, “I am glad I speak in tongues more than any of you.”  It says in Scripture that speaking in tongues edifies us and builds us up spiritually.  The one hundred and twenty followers of Christ all spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost.  The believers in the early churches spoke in tongues.  Many Christians do today.  Why shouldn’t we?


Every believer can speak in tongues and it can be his or her private prayer language.  But the “gift of tongues” is believed to be a gift to be used to bless other believers.  In a charismatic meeting a member who has the gift of tongues may be moved by the Spirit to speak out a message in tongues.  And then the group waits for an interpretation to that message.  Joyce Meyer writes that she often receives interpretations of messages given in tongues.  She says that they come to her as an impression or a knowing in her spirit of what God is trying to say to the group.  Then the person with the gift of interpretations speaks out the knowing of what they are to speak.  Both the person who speaks in tongues in the worship service and the person with the interpretation must operate in faith, because their minds are not involved.  It all comes from the Holy Spirit that lives within their spirits. 


Our lives are spiritual and we need these spiritual gifts because our heavenly Father has planned for us to use them.  Ignoring the gifts may protect us from some problems and keep our lives more organized (boring) and predictable, but turning our backs on the gifts closes the door to many blessings that people badly need in their lives. Let’s pray to receive any gift that God has for us and submit and allow God to use us in any way He wants.



Friday, August 14, 2015

Don't Leave Your Gifts Behind!

Don’t Leave Your Gifts Behind!

God has provided spiritual gifts for you, and they are waiting to be picked up!  There are valuable gifts for everyone but many have been left unwanted and forgotten!   Each of Gods ‘children is promised some gifts!  No one goes empty handed! (Romans 12:6-8)    According to Scripture there are good gifts for each person who believes in Christ.  All kinds of gifts: some helpful and practical, some exciting and glittery, and some healing and restoring.  Many different kinds of spiritual gifts all given by the same Holy Spirit.  All these gifts are given for the common good - so we can bless and help each other.  All spiritual gifts are for our life in the Spirit.

We need the gifts to do the work God has planned for us.  These gifts are described in the Bible as (1) the word of wisdom, (2) the word of knowledge, (3) faith, (4) gifts of healing, (5) miracles, (6) prophecy, (7) discerning of spirits, (8) diverse kinds of tongues and (9) the interpretation of tongues.  (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)  The Bible clearly teaches that God has one or more of these gifts for each of us.  These gifts are abilities or endowments of supernatural power making it possible for the child of God (you and me) to accomplish something beyond our natural ability.  Let’s look at each gift. 

First let’s consider the word of wisdom.   Scripture says: “To one is given through the Holy Spirit a message of wisdom.”  (1 Corinthians 12:8)   The “word of wisdom” gift is different from natural wisdom that can be learned from experience or attained intellectually by study and learning.  The Bible tells us that “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask for it from God, who gives generously” (James 1:5)   but this “word of wisdom” gift is different because we don’t study or do anything to get it.  Instead it is a form of spiritual guidance and comes directly from God.  The “word of wisdom” happens when a person knows supernaturally by the Holy Spirit how to take care of a problem.

We all may have been given the “word of wisdom” and not realized it.  Years ago I had what may have been a word of wisdom.  I was suffering from what I thought was an allergy on my hands.  Both hands began to crack and bleed.  Often there were thirty or forty small bleeding cracks covering both hands.  This went on for four or five years.  I went to several doctors and each doctor told me that I had an allergy.  They gave me lotions and salves for my hands to ease the pain and they told me I would just have to live with the allergy.  Several years passed and my cracked hands only seemed to get worse.

One morning when I was driving to town, my hands hurt so badly that I could hardly bend my bleeding fingers around the steering wheel of the car.  I pulled over to the side of the road and prayed about the problem.  Holding my cracked and bleeding hands up before God I begged for an answer to the problem.  I pleaded for healing for my hands.  Before I could start the car again a strong urge came over me.  I felt that I should go right away to a drugstore down the street and buy a tube of fungal medicine to cure fungus infections.

 I started the car again, stopped at the drug store and bought the fungal meds and rubbed the fungal medication all over my cracked and bleeding hands.  My hands began to feel better almost immediately.  It took several months using the medication to clear the fungal infection on my hands but finally they were completely healed.  I had gotten so accustomed to my cracked and bleeding hands that now my healthy hands seemed like a marvelous miracle and I spent time just looking in wonder at my healthy hands and thanking God!  I believe that God answered my prayer with a “word of wisdom” as to what was needed for healing my hands.

The second gift is the “word of knowledge.”  “And to another a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Holy Spirit.”  (1 Corinthians 12:8)  The gift of knowledge is in operation when God reveals something to an individual about what He is doing in a situation.  This “knowledge” is something that we would have no natural way of knowing.  I believe that the Lord wants us to operate naturally in these supernatural gifts. 

Some years ago my husband, Brendan had what we think was a “word of knowledge”.  His mother – my mother-in-law, was very ill and dying in the hospital and she had not had the opportunity to accept Jesus as her personal Savior.  Time was running out and my mother-in-law had problems hearing about Jesus from her son.  So Brendan prayed and asked God to show him a way to get through to his mother about her need for the Savior.

Shortly after as Brendan was walking down the halls of the hospital, a man in a blue suit walked by.  Suddenly a strong urge came over Brendan and a voice inside his head seemed to urgently say, “Speak to the man in the blue suit about your mother.”  My husband felt silly but he turned and ran down the hall after the man in the blue suit.   Catching up with him and feeling embarrassed, Brendan grabbed this mans’ arm and asked him if he was a Christian.  The surprised man turned around and stood there for a minute and then said: “Well, yes, actually I am a chaplain from a nearby church.”  My husband was surprised that he was a chaplain and then asked him if he would be willing to visit his mother in her hospital room.  This chaplain promised Brendan that he would be happy to visit his mother and speak to her about her need for Jesus as her Savior.

 Soon after the chaplain did indeed visit my husband’s mother and he led her to the Lord there in her hospital room just before she died.  We always thought that the little voice in my husband’s head telling him to ask a stranger to visit his mother was indeed the Holy Spirit guiding him, a word of knowledge perhaps. But my husband had to be willing to perhaps look foolish by chasing a stranger down the hospital halls and asking a question that might have been misunderstood.  When God gives us a gift we need to be ready to use it even if some people think we look foolish! 

When we start using our spiritual gifts it is exciting to know that God is working through us and using us for His glory.  If we receive some spiritual guidance in the form of a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge we are not to draw attention to ourselves.  We are to remain humble.  We are vessels only!  These are power gifts and we must remember that all the power comes from God.       

 Many good churches today never teach about the spiritual gifts!  Or when they do, they teach that God gave these gifts to the early Christians but they are not meant for us today.  Why do many good Christian churches leave this important doctrine out?  Why would we miss out on gifts and power that God would have for us to use in our lives and in our churches?  I believe one reason is that some charismatic Christians who claim to have these gifts have forgotten to be humble and have caused trouble in church meetings by misusing the gifts and showing off.  

Next week we will discuss the other seven spiritual gifts since we are running out of room here.  We will cover the gift of tongues and prophecy and the gifts of healing and miracles– gifts that can sometimes be “messy” and cause disruption in churches whose leaders may want tighter control of what happens in their congregations.  Allowing the gifts of the Spirit to work through us helps us in our everyday life.  And it demonstrates to unbelievers the power and the goodness of Jesus who lives within us. Let’s not sit back and miss out on what God wants us to do just so we can keep our lives predictable and controlled. Let’s ask God to give us whichever gift or gifts He has for us, even if that means we have to step out of our comfort zone sometimes. 

Some of the ideas in this blog came from Joyce Meyer’s book, “Knowing God Intimately”.  Pages 257-288.